President Mugabe shares a lighter moment with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (centre) and Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi at a Zimbabwe National Army Military Academy pass out parade in Gweru yesterday. —  (Picture by John Manzongo)

President Mugabe shares a lighter moment with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (centre) and Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramayi at a Zimbabwe National Army Military Academy pass out parade in Gweru yesterday. — (Picture by John Manzongo)

Midlands Bureau
PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday commissioned 108 junior officers among them 19 females at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in Gweru.

The graduation and pass-out parade of Regular Officer Cadet Course 3-31-13 is the 31st to be held at ZMA since independence.

President Mugabe who is the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commended the ZDF for being consistent in promoting gender equality.

He said the enrolment of more females should be applauded as it dovetails well with the national policy on gender equity which seeks to promote the advancement of women.

“Allow me to single out and applaud the 19 female officer cadets among today’s graduands. Nineteen is nearly 20. We continue to witness an increasing proportion of female cadets in Regular Officer Cadets Courses.

“This, as I have said before, dovetails well with our national policy on gender equity which seeks to promote women as equal members of our society and to accord them equal opportunities with their male counterparts.

“I therefore wish to commend the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for being consistent in promoting gender equality,” President Mugabe said.

He described the graduation ceremony as an ample demonstration of the Zimbabwe Military Academy’s firm commitment to fulfil its mandate of identifying and moulding young Zimbabwean men and women into competent and professional officers of the ZDF.

He said since independence, ZMA had successfully run 31 Regular Officer Cadet courses and in the process injected new blood into the ZDF.

“This indeed is a commendable achievement.

“Congratulations,” President Mugabe said.

Those who graduated, President Mugabe said, had completed 21 months of intensive military training.

He said they followed a curriculum that was divided into three distinct phases’ namely Basic Soldiering Skills, Conventional Warfare and Low Intensity Operations.

“The multi-faceted training course was specifically designed to produce officer cadets with requisite skills in Drill, Skill at Arms, Field Craft, Map Reading, Communication, Command and Leadership, Administration, Military Law, Service Writing, First Aid and Civil Military Relations.

“We are confident the course produced officers with the requisite skills, ideal for regular officers in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” said President Mugabe.

He said the ZMA had improved its training making it more thorough by providing cadet training which combines both physical and academic aspects.

In this regard, President Mugabe said the group was the sixth to graduate with a Diploma in Military Training and Education offered by the ZMA in association with the Midlands State University (MSU).

“The strategic co-operation between MSU and the ZMA which is indeed commendable, has resulted in the Academy being granted Associate Status while plans are at an advanced stage for the Academy to offer degree programmes from MSU,” he said.

President Mugabe said as part of their Civil Military Relations package and to further buttress their training, students had an occasion to visit the Freedom Camp Shrine in Zambia.

He said the visit was meant to allow officer cadets to appreciate the agonising experiences that characterised the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence so that they jealously safeguard the country’s hard-won independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“I am heartened to note the steady and healthy cooperation between the Namibia Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, particularly in the training of Officer Cadets.

“Among today’s graduands is the fourth contingent from Namibia to take part in the Regular Officer Cadet course at this Academy,” said the President.

“I am informed the officers from Namibia Defence Forces have acquitted themselves well and are today being rewarded for their resilience and hard work.”

President Mugabe said 108 cadets out of the initial enrolment of 153 made it to yesterday’s graduation.

He said 45 dropped out for various reasons which include ill-health and failure to cope with the strenuous demands of cadet training.

“From the class, three officers were sent to the People’s Republic of China for further studies in medicine. It is a standing arrangement between our two governments to send deserving officer cadets to receive further training, especially in technical areas relevant to the Defence Forces,” said the President.

He also commended ZMA for living up to its mandate of identifying, training and educating officers who, over time develop to become the country’s future military leaders.

President Mugabe said he was confident that the course which equipped the graduates with important knowledge, skills and attitudes would enable them to successfully execute their duties upon deployment.

With the foundational training they received, he said the officers are expected to continue improving themselves through in-service and further training.

“Allow me to express my appreciation to the Gweru community and the surrounding farmers, whose support has made this Commissioning Parade a success. We all greatly value their support, which, to us is a clear demonstration of their loyalty and commitment to nation building,” he said.

Also present at the graduation ceremony were Defence Minister Dr Sydney Sekeramai, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Commander Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga among other senior government officials.